By Bertram de Souza (Contact)
Published November 15, 2009
A public opinion survey of Mahoning County residents is not only timely, but is necessary — to let commissioners and others in government know what the taxpayers think about them.
Refusal to support such a survey would be interpreted as commissioners David Ludt, Anthony Traficanti and John McNally being afraid to hear the truth. If the trio hopes to sell voters on the idea that renewing the half-percent sales tax in May is essential to the county’s financial well-being, they must be willing to stick their necks out.
The public poll is being pushed by county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, who discussed it with Traficanti and Administrator George Tablack several days after voters on Nov. 3 refused to renew the sales tax. Betras told the officials the party would be willing to split the cost with them. However, their reaction was less than enthusiastic.
Betras has since talked to the Regional Chamber’s vice president of government affairs, Tony Paglia, to see whether his organization would be interested in participating in this important endeavor.
It would be a grave mistake for the commissioners and Tablack to believe that the sales tax renewal failed because voters were confused by the word “additional” in the text of the ballot issue and the absence of the word “renewal.” There’s more going on, including an anti-government attitude shared by many taxpayers.
There is nothing to lose with a public opinion survey, and everything to be gained. The commissioners should get out of their comfort zone and talk to the people.